Facebook Advertising 101
Want to expand into Facebook? Facebook has several different types of advertising, and each is idiosyncratic. Here is a brief overview:
Standard External URL Ads
These are the kind of thing most people associate with the term “Facebook Ads.” They are external links to your website, introduced by a title, some text, and a 110 x 80 pixel image.
External URL ads can be targeted at users based on age, sex, geographic location, and interests. You may bid either for user clicks or for user impressions. Your ad will be ranked with other ads for each user, based on your bid, your ad’s quality, and your advertising campaigns’ previous performance.
The general wisdom in SEO circles is that Facebook external URL ads are efficiently priced when bidding for clicks, but inefficiently priced when bidding for impressions. Facebook representatives have countered that impressions alone are valuable because they increase brand awareness. Personally, I like ad campaigns with clearly demonstrated and measurable effects, so I would advise against paying for impressions if at all possible.
However, the standard external ads are only a small part of Facebook advertising.
Sponsored stories are a unique, and profitable, form of Facebook advertising. They are stories about people interacting with your company’s page that are given a boost in their ranking system so they appear on more people’s news feeds.
For example, say a user named Jim just Liked your company’s page. Now, say Jim has a friend named Bob. Bob has lots of friends and a very busy news feed. The EdgeRank algorithm, which determines which stories show up on Bob’s newsfeed, would ordinarily determine that Jim Liking something was not newsworthy. However, you can set up your advertising account to bid for a spot on Bob’s news feed as soon as Jim or anyone else Likes your company.
Like external URL ads, sponsored stories can be paid for either per click or per impression.
Facebook has also introduced a new type of advertising that interfaces with third party data providers called Facebook Exchange. Facebook Exchange ads use cookie trackers to target Facebook ads to users based on their recent browsing history. These ads can be targeted very precisely. For example, an online bookseller could target ads only at people who just visited another online bookseller and reached the checkout page, but did not actually go through with the purchase. While the thought is still fresh in consumers’ minds, they see a related ad on their Facebook profile. This technique is known in marketing circles as “retargeting.”
Comparison to Google Advertising
Facebook ads generally have a much lower click-through rate than Google ads. Facebook users have trained themselves to just skim read all the adspace. There has also been some pushback from users over sponsored stories cluttering up their news feeds. In order to do well on Facebook, you must be able to sell people on your product in less than a paragraph. You also need to have ad images and stories that pop out and get noticed.
However, Facebook advertising has its advantages as well. In Facebook, you can target your ads to very specific age and demographic groups. This means that your impressions are being spent where they are needed most. If you’re up for the extra challenge, you can do well with Facebook advertising.
Steve is a Social Media Manager and Google AdWords Certified Individual at TechWyse, an internet marketing firm based in Toronto, Canada. TechWyse specializes in SEO, PPC and Social Media Marketing. You can read more of Steve’s writing at TechWyse.com/blog.